tour de france

Wrapping up first month of Road Cycling-14

January is the month when we get that small distant taste of a new road cycling season with The Tour Down Under and pro cycling teams showing up new gear and team colors. For me January often is an indicator of what the upcoming year might bring. The first FTP tests, weight reduction in order to even further work on the W/kg ratio and really starting to build for the upcoming road cycling season. 

Ice hockey and trainer seemed to be the agenda for January training

Last year I had a pretty good start, and looking at statistics this year I haven't been doing as much. No gym so far, managed to do some core training and qualitative training on the trainer and also outdoors, so cycling wise I think I'm still ahead, and I feel that as well in the legs. Looking at the previous FTP test, that also indicates I'm on a good way and in head of last year's numbers.

Food was another theme, especially eating smarter

There are several other great news in road cycling during January. IAM Cycling Team has been invited as a wildcard to the Tour de France 2014, Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné. Even if they didn't got the invitation to the Giro d'Italia 2014, the dream of making two grand tours still live since IAM Cycling team looks forward to hit the Vuelta as well this year. You can read the whole article here. These invitations are also in line with the expectations that Kjell Carlström mentioned in an interview with him earlier in January

January has also brought some great news for Finnish road cycling. The project "Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun" has advanced and now the "Suomen Kilpapyöräily Ry" will continue to work on the first ever attempt to really bring together our promising youth and bring them to the top of professional road cycling. Behind this movement are great names such as Kjell Carlström and Charly Wegelius. One could say, a new era in Finnish road cycling has begun. Read more about it by following Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun Facebook page.

Kjell and Charlie teaching our youth! (picture from  Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun facebook page )

Kjell and Charlie teaching our youth! (picture from Suomen Pyöräily Nousuun facebook page)

I will let you know more about this project as it progresses.

 

Enjoy your weekends!

Interview with Kjell Carlström, IAM Cycling Team

Kjellinterview.jpg

A week ago I chatted with Kjell Carlström and we decided to meet in Turku. I’ve been fortunate to get to know this former Team Sky professional cyclist currently working as Directeur Sportif (DS) for the Swiss IAM Cycling Team. Kjell has also been motivating and coaching me in my training and because of that I have been able to develop as a cyclist, both mentally and physically. So as you all know, it is always great to meet such people, this time was no exception. Also, talking with people who share the same interest, hours easily feels like minutes. I of course was eager to hear everything about the switch from a professional cyclist to a directeur sportif and all the latest about the team.

Q: What were the highs and lows from the first year, season 2013:

A:  Well there was a lot happening during 2013, but definitely the big disappointments of the year were the fact that IAM Cycling was left out from both Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. But thinking about those now a year later, they really wouldn’t have fit in our program for the year, and maybe it was better the way it turned out. Of course also bad luck for some of our riders such as Löfkvist was unfortunate.

Looking at the good things, there are many of them. We got a really good start in Qatar with Martin Elmiger battling for stage win on stage 1, finishing second on that stage. Of course Martin had a superb year and we were really pleased with the progress he made, and especially he was a really solid rider all year. Of course Bayern Rundfahrt was a good race for us with Stefan Denifl winning the mountains jersey, Heinrich Haussler winning stage 5 and the whole team performing really well and having both Martin Elmiger (9) and Marcel Wyss (7) at the GC top 10 and winning the team classification. We had a good year, but this year, we want to win even more.

Q: So what about your own ambitions or goals for the coming year?

A: I always wanted to win a grand tour. Before as a cyclist, and now as a DS. And even if we did have a good first year, I want to strive to be even better and do things better and more efficient as ever before. There is a lot to do, and that’s why I like this job. You can never be completely ready or done with what you do. It’s about the whole process. We’ve implemented the Fustra training method, and we’ve been really happy with that. Many riders have added this method to their routine, and we do see results as well. And sure, we do have some new things coming up…

At this point he gave me that laugh, you know when you have a secret you know will make a difference and sure, will be revealed at some point because it will end up in good results.

Let’s see what that is, it will be big, he continued laughing.

I realized it would be meaningless to even try to know what that is. So I didn’t ask more, just laughed along. We’ll see…

Q: What are the differences of being a pro cyclist and working together with pro cyclists?

A: It’s a totally different point of view that you have. As a DS you really need to be able to think in wider paths, you need to be able to think about the cyclists, things as a whole. When you plan or execute, you need to be able to see the whole picture from all angles. What seems logical for a cyclist might not be logical in the big picture, and sometimes it is hard to communicate that. At IAM Cycling, we try to talk and listen to our guys as much as possible, yea we do talk a lot.

Q: Goals and important dates for this season, which cyclist do you expect to step up and how is the team built up?

A: We have some important races we want to target with certain riders. The whole season expectations will be a mix of individual races and grand tour ambitions. The main goal is to be on the Tour this year, to win at least one stage, have the yellow jersey or have at least one rider in the top ten GC. We target to have at least one of these happening on the Tour, of course we are glad to nail them all! We have several riders who are able to target these goals. It’s are a huge advantage for us since we have a strong team with many good riders this year.

Of course we also want to win a classic in the spring, and we all know the biggest one is Paris-Roubaix. We have a really good mixture of riders for the first half of the classics and this gives us possibilities for building a great strategy in order to win. We have for instance Chavanel and Haussler, both really experienced and strong riders. Reichebach and Pelucchi have both good sprinting capabilities; we expect them to show up as well. Frank and Wyss both are able to step up this season too; we really have a wide range of cyclists who can, on a good day, win any race. Of course Löfkvist have all the possibilities to ride really well. He was really unlucky last year, we just need to change that and he can really have a successful year, he has made some great improvements lately. And Elmiger, huge year for him. He proved he can perform and this year he has some great targets where he really can win, and we really do believe this can be his big year. As a whole I see many of our riders to step up this year and reach a solid performance on high level.

It is also important that we don’t classify our young riders at a too early stage. Everyone needs to get opportunities to show what they can do and what they are best at doing. Too many become domestiques because they are classified as domestiques at an early stage. We don’t want to do that.

Q: Any comments on the Tour de France 2013 and what do you expect from the Tour de France 2014?

A: Well, the 2013, I expected Team Sky to perform and Froome to win, I had no doubt about it. For me it didn’t kill the interest in the tour, but maybe it didn’t offer the greatest excitement. It seemed that many teams had given up already before the race started. And the Alp d´Huez stage showed us all that even the Team Sky riders can be beaten, they’re humans as well.

For the 2014 edition of the Tour, Froome is of course the favorite. But it will be more interesting, because I don’t think Team Sky will be as dominant this year. Will be interesting to see how the Schlecks, Contador, Nibali and Rodriguez can do. There are many strong riders and teams such as Garmin and BMC. And maybe someone else as well…

Again a laugh from Carlström, I think he just mentioned IAM here.

The media pressure on Team Sky is huge, and it might affect how they ride and put a really hard pressure on all the riders there.

Q: What do you think about your former team and roommate Chris Froome?

A: He is a great guy, really down to earth and I wish him all the best of luck of course. During the time I spent with him, I really don’t have one bad word to say about him. Well in the beginning, before becoming a big name and grand tour winner, he really struggled with keeping his head with him when cycling. It was often just full speed and all out efforts instead of thinking of race tactics. But once he got that part in shape, well the rest is history as we know.

Q: So what is your relation to cycling today, do you still ride your bike and do you sometimes think it would be great to be racing?

A: I do ride, but not much these days, maybe less than 1000 km a year. Yet another laugh by Kjell. Well it would be great to race to win, but when I think about the amount of training it would mean, no I don’t want to get back there anymore.

It could be great to be able to go back 15 years, and try to do things differently. Not of course that I regret the things I’ve done, but I think it could have been of great importance to be able to believe in myself even more. That could have changed many things for me as a professional cyclist.

Suddenly the lights blinked. I realized the restaurant was closing and it was already 10 pm. I also realized I’d forgotten about my food and that there was still plenty of food left on the plate. Hours really can be minutes.

I will try to follow more closely on the IAM Cycling Team progress this year, and every time I have the possibility I try to catch up with Kjell to hear the insiders from races if possible. So stay tuned!

 

Links:

Team IAM Cycling website

Team IAM Cycling facebook page

Team IAM Cycling Twitter

Fustra

 

Vuelta Vantaa

Tomorrow is the fourth race of the year, Vuelta Vantaa. A 100km long ride consists of two 50km laps. The route has some rolling hills, but is mainly flat.  100 km is not that much, and depending on how fresh my legs are tomorrow I'll see if I'm able to do something more than usual. Last days have been preparing for tomorrow, some intervals and today just warming up the legs a bit.

Yesterday brought some showers, fortunately the sun came out to dry up the roads and my face

Yesterday brought some showers, fortunately the sun came out to dry up the roads and my face

10 minutes and the roads were dry

10 minutes and the roads were dry

Also spent some time sprinting

Also spent some time sprinting

Today was more of a relaxing day in the saddle. Also met some local teammates on the road!

Today was more of a relaxing day in the saddle. Also met some local teammates on the road!

It was a bit chilly despite the sunshine

It was a bit chilly despite the sunshine

It will be an early wake up again, and we'll leave at around 7 am. As usual, you're able to track me live on http://www.invisiblehillcycling.com/live-tracking/The start is at 11 am Finnish time.

Tomorrow will also be the last day of Tour de France 2013, and the riders will arrive to Paris and Champs-Élysées in the evening. This is part of the celebration of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Will for sure be a spectacular event! It will be a lot tougher for Mark Cavendish this year if he likes to win the last stage!

See you tomorrow!

See you tomorrow!

Road Cycling in Archipelago

Probably one of the most beautiful places you can take your road bike to in Finland is the archipelago. You can ride the whole archipelago trail ( 250 km / 155 miles ), or the shorter ( 100km / 62 miles ). The longer route you'll find here, and if you want to read more about the archipelago trail, you'll find some information here. I did the longer one last summer in really chilly conditions and that was one of the hardest days on the bike in rain and + 12 degrees (read the blog post here).

Last weekend I took my road bike and headed for our summerplace in Nauvo/Nagu, and the weather was very different from last year, + 25 and sunshine. 

On the ferry between the mainland and Nauvo

On the ferry between the mainland and Nauvo

Travelling to the summerplace

Travelling to the summerplace

It's so amazing being in the archipelago, no cars, just the sound from the nature. Pretty much the only place where you can completely relax.

How about waking up to this view?

How about waking up to this view?

We also took a boat trip to Utö, located in the outer archipelago. Superb weather.

The Utö lighthouse

The Utö lighthouse

Fishing huts

Fishing huts

Beautiful landscapes

Beautiful landscapes

I often talk about food. Smoked fish is one of my favorites and that's what we did. What's better than self-smoked fish?

Yum

Yum

On the way back from the archipelago I had to make a stop. Finnish summer can really be awesome, and a warm day in June has plenty of absolutely fantastic aromas. One of them is the smell from the wild strawberries. It's hard not to make a stop and just pick a handful of them. 

True taste

True taste

And what's better than coming home, sitting down in the sofa and watching a mountain stage of the Tour de France? 

Relax

Relax

If you ever have a possibility to take a ride in the Finnish archipelago, please do it!

 

Have a good one! 

 

Royal Cycling

Tomorrow is the third race of the year for me, Royal Cycling (Royal Pyöräily) in Lahti, Finland. It will be a 132 km long route with around 300 riders starting. Youll find the route here. The route is somewhat hilly, and really looking forward for the hills at the end. A fast 2,8 km long uphill section just 10 km before finish. Whatever group I'll ride in, that's a place to make a breakaway in. So hopefully I'll have fresh legs tomorrow.

Elevation graphics

Elevation graphics

As usual, you're able to track my ride on Endomondo. The live tracking link should appear on my Endomondo page here or alternative you can actually follow it straight from my site here on The Invisible Hill under main menu, Races/Live tracking here.

We will start at 6 am, so once again a really early wakeup. Hopefully I'm able to get some proper sleep. 

Today was once again a great day of road cycling. A proper breakfast, coffee, and out for a short ride with a couple of short sprint-intervals just to get the legs going.

Pre-ride espresso

Pre-ride espresso

And what could be better after that, than watching a great mountain stage of Tour de France and have some proper food and coffee. Superb effort by Team Sky and Chris Froome, not to mention Richie Porte. Huge. I just hope Contador, Valverde or someone else could make it a good fight for Team Sky. If the domination is like today, it might be a boring last 2 weeks of the tour.  

Rice, chicken and green beans, my fuel-up-for-a-race-nutrition, always

Rice, chicken and green beans, my fuel-up-for-a-race-nutrition, always

So I'll keep you updated tomorrow on the facebook page with pictures from along the day. The weather should be great, hopefully my legs are great too.

No summer without wild strawberries, a must-stop when you see these on a easy ride. 

No summer without wild strawberries, a must-stop when you see these on a easy ride. 

Until next time, enjoy the summer, ride your bikes!

A superb day of road cycling

Some days are better than others, and today was one of those days you'll remember even on the coldest and darkest winter days. It was simply superb. 

Today's schedule was to ride some easy 4 - 5 hours and then get back home to watch the end of stage 2 of the Tour de France. Around 11 am I took the bike out, +23 degrees and sunshine, light winds. Perfect. 

Smooth

Smooth

I also decided to take a new route section today, took one wrong turn before I found the actual route. And luckily so, it was really beautiful. Idyllic yards, beautiful landscapes and winding roads.  

Ponies ahead!

Ponies ahead!

Nice scenery

Nice scenery

Idyllic neighborhoods  

Idyllic neighborhoods  

Tour de France colors

Tour de France colors

Dear Lord, please make the summer last forever

Dear Lord, please make the summer last forever

Decided to make a stop for a couple of minutes. Just to listen to the birds, the summer breeze and to smell the great tang of summer

Decided to make a stop for a couple of minutes. Just to listen to the birds, the summer breeze and to smell the great tang of summer

It's sometimes nice to vary the ride snacks. Raisins are great nutrition for your rides with plenty of fructose and energy.

It's sometimes nice to vary the ride snacks. Raisins are great nutrition for your rides with plenty of fructose and energy.

For those who want to have the nutrition facts for raisins, here you have it:

Nutritional value of raisins (100g) 

  • 299 calories
  • 0.5 g fat
  • 79 g carbohydrates
  • 59 g sugar
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 3 g protein 

The ride was filled with euphoria. Many great thoughts and ideas as well as just plain enjoyment of the fact that I was riding my bike on a day like this. I will certainly memorize this day, and go back to this day whenever I have a bad one.

 Four and a half hours later I arrived home, just in time for the action on the second stage of the Tour de France 2013. And what a stage that was. I prepared some recovery food and coffee and enjoyed the stage. Superb. Many great strong attacks and no crashes. And once again a demonstration about how strong will and determination can take you far. In the last kilometers there was a small breakaway, and as usual before the finish the group started looking at each other because no one wanted to do the dirty job. Jan Bakelants got rid of that group and barely finished before the main group with Peter Sagan in second. Huge effort by Bakelants, and surely a day he'll never forget. 

Post ride Tdf with Italian coffee #awesomeness

Post ride Tdf with Italian coffee #awesomeness

Have a good one! 

Le Tour de France 2013

So we've seen the first stage of the Tour de France 2013. Hectic chaos would probably be the best words to describe what happened yesterday. First we saw Johnny Hoogerland crash (again..) and then we heard about the Orica Greenedge bus that had created a chaos at the finish line. 

The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

This gave organizers a headache and they had to make a decision to have the finish already at the 3 km to go line. At this point the riders were only 10 km from the original finish line and hence the teams started immediately to line up for sprint. Moments before the "new" finish at 3 km sign the bus was removed and the organizers decided to move the finish back to the original one. This lead to immediate change in pace from 100 % to less and this disorganized chaos led to a big crash.

The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

When the big sprinters were away, Marcel Kittel had a pretty easy job to take the stage win. Only the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff from team Katusha gave him a decent fight.

Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Today will take the riders to mountains already. Hopefully everyone who crashed yesterday are able to start. The mountain stage should make the bunch a bit more relaxed. Let's at least hope so. 

I also found a great graphic that visualizes the development of the Tour de France (picture by Bikeraceinfo.com):

Enjoy the greatest sport event of the year!

Wrapping up 2011

So yet another year of cycling is left behind, definitely a good one. I reached a pleasant amount of goals set up for the year, most certainly due to the new bike bought in early spring when the snow still covered the ground. It was also an interesting year in pro-cycling, bringing new talents to the top elite.

2011, having bought the Kurt Kinetic trainer in 2010, was the first of my cycling years to begin with an indoor cycling period, and this enhanced the early season cycling a lot. Another big reason to a good start was the new bike that was several kgs lighter than my previous one. The Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 was my first full carbon bike weighing at around 7,2kgs. I also bought a new cycling computer the Garmin Edge 500, and I have been more than pleased with it.

Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 (Ultegra/Dura Ace)The first ride, we rode among snow and ice on April 5th. It was +4 degrees, but the sun already did it's job warming us up.

First ride of the year, all smilesAlmost a month later we saw something we never hope to see, a rider passing away during Giro. Wouter Weylandt passed away on the third stage of Giro chasing the front. He died wearing number 108, and this number will never be used again in the Giro, to the memory of Wouter Weylandt.

Team Leopard-Trek remembered Wouter on their website The Giro was then won by Alberto Contador, and he made it look really easy.

Alberto in pinkFinland had one of its best summers in years, and this ofcourse brought us many good rides in good conditions. Temperatures of around 25-30 degrees celcius and hardly any rain at all. This also helped me in achieving one of my goals, riding 300km. I couldn't have asked for a better day to do that, than the 14th of July. Almost no winds, pure sunshine and a perfect temperature. Having bought an HD camera, I was able to record many of the sections from along the ride.

300.54 km began at 6 am. The route was taken counter-clockwise

 

In July, the Tour de France was won by Cadel Evans, after many twist and turns. My own season highlight was approaching fast, Tour de Helsinki in early September. In august though, I got an influenza that lasted for 3 weeks and this took the best training time away and I had to participate without having trained for many weeks and still having a flu. Thus it went pretty okay. With no big hopes I was able to make a time almost 15 minutes better than last year. 

I also had time to chat with Kjell Carlström, who was beaten in the final sprint and took the second place overall.

Due to the warmest fall in a long time, I was still able to ride in November, and the last outdoor ride was ridden in total darkness 7th November.

wearing almost everything I had in the closet

Even though I wasn't able to reach my goal of 7000km this year, the season 2011 was a great one in many ways. Many new routes introduced and a great weather among with a new bike, new gear (cameras, hydration packs, bibs etc.) made the year a pleasant one. And hopefully the season 2012 will be even a better one with faster averages, more kilometres, better training and even more rides with friends. I hope you all have a good 2012 and still have time to check this blog every now and then. 

 

Happy ridings!

Tours and summers passing by

So, almost a month passed by, we saw the Tour de France get a new winner, I did cycle 300km and now, it seems like autumn is approaching Finland. 

My last post was about cycling 300km, and sure I did manage, and yes I did make a short movie about it (you'll find the vid further down). It was tough, not tough in a way that my body couldn't handle it, it was mentally really tough. Going alone for 11 hours and the last 100km just felt I would never get home. My garmin seemed to be stuck on 200km. But later on, when I got back on well known roads in the last 60km I felt I could really speed up a little, and actually had same kind a pace I usually have riding on these roads. The same evening my back hurt a little, but the only thing that lasted longer than one evening, was the red stripes in my face (who could ever think the sun would follow my left cheek all the way...), and sure my workmates were there to remind me I had probably forgot the sunscreen.. All in all, a great ride, great weather and a great achievement. But honestly, I wouldn't do it again, not alone. But now I at least know I'm able to survive Vätternrundan. You'll find the training data HERE.

This took me through the 300kmAnd this is what I rodeKemiönsaari at 50km

Strömma Kanal at 70 kmDuring the ride I had to make 3 stops, just to strech the legs and get some energy (beside those energy bars..)

Enjoying pulla and coffee at Tammisaari ( at 115km)Pizzaroll and coffee in Fagervik (at 145km)

Fagervik at 145km
Pasta in Virkkala (at 175km)

And the short video from the different sections of the ride:

 

July of course was also the time to watch the Tour, and it actually was pretty exciting this year, and I was glad to see Cadel Evans take the overall win. He had been fighting so many years to finally get there!

Enjoying the Tour

Besides this, I cycled another 1000km in July, making the total for this year some 3000km. I'm almost halfway to the goal, which at this point is far away, but I'm still sure I'm gonna make it. In one month we'll also be attending a cycling event, Tour de Helsinki. I'll give a heads up and some more photos from our rides in July in the next update, soon. 

 

A dopo!

Closing up the gap

The goal set up in the beginning of the year (7000km) has now been reduced with some 2000km. So there is still 5000km to ride, and hopefully most of those kilometres can be done during the warm period. After some knee-problems I'm hopeful of getting on some longer rides soon, and also being able to ride one 300km ride this month. The route would look somewhat like this:

 

More about this ride later on..

July means the beginning of the Tour de France, and we've already seen two great stages! Today's team time trial was won by Team Garmin-Cervelo, which means the Norwegian world champion, Thor Hushovd took the yellow jersey! 

Team Leopard-Trek warming upThor Hushovd (cyclingnews.com)Enjoying the TTT

We also got a new road cycling national champion today, Kjell Carlström! He rode in a breakaway and was able to break free from that group in the latter part of the race, and won by over one minute! Congrats Kellu!

Kjell Carlström, Finnish national road race champ 2011

 

The weather in June has been timewise pretty good, even if I haven't been able to make those longer rides due to some long days at work and some earlier mentioned knee-problems. But these rides have shown that even though Finland is not Italy, we can still have some spectacular views here too.

 

Klaus in aero-position

Riding in the archipelago usually means taking a ferry

Cleaning the bikesClean-ClaraFirst longer ride resulted some 155kmCycling can sometimes be ugly and dirty...


+30 degrees

 

 

Enjoy the summer!

Chasing Legends

 

There is no greater sporting event in all of cycling than the Tour de France. Chasing Legends touches on the rich history, passion and true grit of The Tour as seen through the eyes of Team HTC Columbia along with commentary from Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, Eddy Merckx, Lance Armstrong and some of the sports most prolific heros.